Lives run by technology

It is nothing new for people’s lives to revolve around technology.

I can remember half a century ago my mother talking on the phone for an hour or more.

In the 1960s television started to dictate people’s lives – it wasn’t uncommon for meetings to be scheduled to avoid clashing with programmes like ‘Peyton Place’ (incidentally a programme I have never seen, my family were late acquirers of a goggle box).

In the 1990’s cell phones and texting started to play a part in many people’s lives. I remember when conducting an IT training course in the early 1990’s and a Telecom employee had to show how indispensable he and his brick phone were.

By the turn of the century teenagers and young adults of my children’s generation ran their social lives by text. The old practice of going to the pub to find out where the parties were became obsolete.

Gradually smart phones took over many people’s lives, transfixed to Facebook or Twitter. Dating apps replaced socialising as a means of hooking up with someone.

Then ‘activity trackers’ became popular. Now you don’t have to remember what you have done, it is recorded for you. Recently I saw someone post on Facebook not just how far they had walked and how long it took, but how many calories it had used, and it included a route map. They also posted a sleep map – instead of just saying ‘I had a crap sleep last night’ they showed virtually every toss and turn in detail.

How long will it be before we see root maps? Probably already popular somewhere in social media.

These activity mappers are now also activity prompters – not just telling you what you’ve done (or haven’t done), but also suggesting what to do next.

I’m not sure that handing over your life that much to technology is funny. It may have some benefits, but it also has dangers.

How long will it be before devices say ‘it’s half a day since you have bought some junk food, act on your craving NOW at xyz‘. Maybe they already do.

It could just as easily be used to sell alcohol, drugs, toys.

People would probably buy the latest craze for kids even if it kept popping up prompts like ‘It’s now time to pester your parent/s for gizmo#35, series 11′.

It would only be a slight variation on common marketing techniques for apps to learn parents’ weaknesses and tell kids how best to coerce their latest fix.

Robots may be already slowly taking over, disguised in many forms of technology.

Sealing of Pike River mine will be stopped

The Government has changed tack on Pike River re-entry, citing new robot technology that will make it safer to go into the mine, and will stop the sealing of the mine.

Stuff: Sealing of Pike River mine will be stopped, says Bill English

Pike River families have been told the sealing of the mine will be stopped following a meeting with Prime Minister Bill English, with Solid Energy asked to look into new technology which could allow unmanned entry.

Family members of the Pike River miners met English for the first time in an attempt to stop the sealing of the mine, and emerged afterwards with cautious optimism about the options on the table.

Some family members of Pike River victims have been campaigning for re-entry, some haven’t.

Bernie Monk, spokesman for some of the Pike River families, said the meeting was “very positive”.

“We’ve got another step forward for us…I think they got a lot of understanding about the ins and outs, because it’s not easy for them to understand what we’ve been through over the last six years.”

Monk said English’s promise to stop the sealing of the mine would allow the group to end its picket at Pike River, which had been going on 24 hours a day for 13 weeks.

Forster said English had stated the Government’s continued opposition to any humans re-entering the drift, but shared a a “clear expectation” that non-manned technology, such as aerial drones, should be considered as an option.

‘Aerial drones’ in a mine sounds funny but they could be flown up the shaft.

English said a decision to re-enter the mine was “not about politics, it is about safety”.

In an election year with families pushing hard and parties, particularly Labour and NZ First, making a political issue out of it, then it’s hard to separate some of the politics.

“We lost 29 lives in that mine and I will not risk losing any more.”

The families’ proposal for re-entering Pike River did not include a detailed plan, “and therefore does not make the case for a safe re-entry”, he said.

However, he would ask Solid Energy to stop work on the mine’s permanent seal and explore options for unmanned entry, after the Government was approached in recent weeks by experts with new proposals.

“The families’ technical advisor agreed that there has been significant advancements in technology since the tragedy occurred six years ago.

“We will ask Solid Energy to explore those options. We will also keep the families informed and allow their technical input into the search for options for unmanned entry.”

The Government would give Solid Energy money to look into the unmanned options, English said.

If drones are used they could look but it’s unlikely they could remove bodies.

Several robot vehicles have already been sent into the mine and have failed (broken down).

Labour leader Andrew Little said stopping the sealing of the mine was “the right thing at this stage”, but questioned why the Government continued to rule out a physical re-entry.

“We’ve got to keep the pressure up…because it must still be possible to get in there and see what remains are in there.”

There is one thing worse than not doing anything about re-entry in election year and that would be sending people into the mine and losing more lives.